William Byrd (±1539-1623): Afflicti pro peccatis nostris

This is a surprisingly old-fashioned motet that with its use of a plainsong cantus that moves from the baritone in the first section to the tenor in the second looks back to the bygone age when the Sarum rite in all its glory flourished in a land famous for its loyalty and devotion to the church. It’s a six-part ATTBBB setting that takes its text from a Lenten respond one of the interesting things about it is that despite the fact that it was published in the 1591 Cantiones sacrae it has cadences in all the right places for plainsong verses to inserted. I wonder why? Two solutions to the mystery present themselves. The first is that it’s from very early on in Byrd’s career but I doubt this because it’s so polished, the second is that he wrote it for a patron who was sheltering some monks or others who were familiar with the chant. That’s pure speculation of course but it’s not entirely unlikely his patron’s seat in nearby Ingatestone was a hotbed of recusant activity and a known place of shelter for Catholic clergy. Enjoy :-).


William Byrd (±1539-1623): Afflicti pro peccatis nostris

Afflicti pro peccatis nostris,
quotidie cum lacrimis exspectemus finem nostrum.
Dolor cordis nostri ascendat ad te, Domine.

Afflicted on account of our sins,
every day with weeping we await our end.
The sorrow of our heart rises to you, Lord.

Ut eruas nos a malis, quae innovantur in nobis.

Sarum Rite Lenten respond

So that you might deliver us from the evils that afflict us anew.

Performers: The Cardinall’s Musick conducted by Andrew Carwood

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